Adeniyi Olusola is a Writer and Inspirational Speaker with a particular bias for the teeming teenage populace.
His ardour for teenagers birthed his first book, ‘What Time is it?’ and his flair for creativity has seen him pursue a career in film-making…warning Nollywood, a new kid is on the block!
Ever wondered how to begin to make an impact? You can glean one or two insights from Adeniyi’s story.
Read. Learn. Act. Repeat!
You authored a book for and about young people; kindly give us some insights into the factors that led you to believe that there was a need for such literature in these times…
I’ve always loved to be a part of the birthing of a new generation and have been involved with youth development outreaches since my university days. The book is an offspring of a series of Secondary School outreaches I did between 2009 and 2012 and also from speaking engagements at Churches or camp programs. So towards the end of 2011, precisely in November, I had a talk at a particular School in Port Harcourt, it was a great moment and the School’s Chaplain requested I document it into manual that the students can read again and again as they may forget the wise words (according to him) over time. On my way home and as I thought and prayed about it I saw the bigger picture of developing the manual into a book that will be more comprehensive to reach a wider audience beyond that School. The mandate I got for the project is to capture and document into a single volume; a book that will become a sort of life companion to young people, which they can always refer to and learn from as they grow; a lifetime legacy I wanted to share with the target audience. Another interesting factor that motivated my commitment into this project is the fact that not much volume has been written exclusively to this target age group, most books are written for adults, most films are produced for adults or even children and the Teenage/Youth age group are usually guided by age restrictions to find entertainment. So I wanted a book that will be exclusively dedicated to them this time, I believe they have their peculiar challenges that children and adults have no clues about.
What were the challenges you encountered in the writing and publishing process?
Obviously it was my first time embarking on such a feat, so the terrain was very new to me. I faced and learned from every challenge that could possibly arise from self publishing. Ranging from meeting up with the personal timeline I set for the project, finding the time to pen down the concepts, making it interesting and fun to read, finding relevant stories to present the truth, getting my facts right and waiting for a long time to get feedbacks on the manuscript. I did a lot of rewrites, so the writing process was demanding and prolonged than I thought. Publishing was another hurdle I had to cross, mostly with disappointments from clients. I had to change clients towards the end of the publishing phase and only saw the book a few minutes before it was launched. In fact the program had started and the book hadn’t arrived from Lagos, everything was at stake but God saw me through.
The dearth of a reading culture amongst young Nigerians has been lamented in every sphere; how do you hope to surmount that obstacle and get your target audience to read your book?
It is a very true observation, I get that response a lot; not only young people even adults on my continent seldom read. I think it’s a commitment thing, not only for young people but adults likewise. Teenagers learn from us, a parent that reads will naturally find his/her Teenager asking for books to read. But regardless of this observation, there are still young people that read in this country. My take on the issue is that we should encourage and focus on the percentage that reads, so that they in turn become an inspiration or a positive peer pressure on those that have less appetite to reading. If we focus on those that do not read, we will be discouraged to continue writing for them, then we are all stuck. Another thing I did in my book was to use pictures and stories to present my ideas; you will find an interesting picture mostly on every page to make the reading fun. I also used figurative illustrations to get my points out. I have seen Teenagers that finished it in four days or a week and there are those that are still “reading”. So it’s pretty much an individual issue. Some like to read and some don’t like reading from a paper, which is why very soon an e-version of the book will be out, for those not given to the traditional reading from a print. Nowadays Teenagers have Ipads and Tablets or their parent’s, so I believe an e-book will encourage more to read. I will also consider an audio book at a later phase. The good news is that the book is written and I will not give up getting the message out there. We should continue to encourage and inspire young people to read whichever way we can, that’s the only way forward.
A sneak peek into ‘What Time Is It?’
WHAT TIME IS IT?’ is a fresh analytical insight into the life, potentials and challenges of a Teenager. I see Teenagers as precious, tender, beautiful, endowed, gifted, peculiar, pivotal, sensitive, potential transformational agent and future leader in the making. Yet, the current trends in the society threaten their relevance and impact, leaving them sometimes misguided and vulnerable. The book addressed the peculiar issues they face, explained the riddles and resolve the challenges they meet as they grow, answered the questions they want to ask, guides their choices on several life issues, interpreted the times and gives right perspectives to life as well as presenting them with a vision to live for. The book covers various life issues such as; time management, decision-making, academic excellence, career choices, purpose discovery, overcoming sin, self control, service, leadership, societal relevance, creativity, character development, spiritual growth, intimacy with God, among others. It’s a great resource for teenagers and those who love them.
Let’s get up, close and personal; give us a bit of history.
Hmmm, not much from a high pedigree, not much of history has been written or can be read about me and my family. I am a new generation.
Education; where and what did you study? Did you have to take any additional classes to hone your writing?
Well, I had my Primary education at Ibadan, Nigeria where I was born few decades ago, my Secondary was at Ijebu Ode in Ogun State, then my first degree was in Geology at FUTMINNA, Niger State, but I have always loved writing. I started writing from age nine; I had a diary and an exercise book that I wrote on. I remember I used to speak and my brother would help me to write it, because he had a better handwriting. Writing comes to me first as an expression, I write not because I’m an expert at literature but because I have something to say. My writings have been mostly motivated by the insights I receive and a need to communicate them to others. I assume that if I don’t have the stage or mic yet; putting my thoughts on them on paper will get them out there. In between my University education I did two short courses on Screenwriting for Film/TV Production and I recently completed a second degree at a Film/TV University in South Africa, Screenwriting was one of my majours.
You have since set about pursuing a career in motion picture production; are we about to witness the making of the new ‘Nollywood?’
Yes, most definitely by the grace of GOD. Great storytelling is coming your way soon. Watch Out!
Director, editor, screen-writing, cinematographer…which one or more of these fascinates you about film-production?
I see myself firstly as a creator of concepts and stories. So I will go in the order of Screenwriter, Director, Producer, Editor, Actor, Cinematographer and any other business in the Media Arts world.
In another half-decade, what can we expect from Olusola Adeniyi career-wise?
I’m at the phase of starting a media company and currently working with others on a couple of Film and TV productions. So in the next 5 years, I’m working towards at least a feature film produced and another book published by the Grace of God.
In your experience, has life been but a bed of roses?
Someone said “even roses have thorns”, solife has been a series of adventures to me. I learnt being independent when I started living away from my parents by age ten. In my few years, I have started and rounded up living in different places per time. The most challenging parts for me has been about meeting people versus losing touch with friends and travelling to places where I knew few people to start a life there. It’s also been challenging getting sufficient resources to pursue the dream; broken promises, despair, desperate moments, good moments, success and the often landmark achievements amidst challenges. I have experienced life as a mix of these different emotions. But in the end, I am passionate about living God’s purpose for me to the fullest and no matter what I go through on this course, I have no regrets.
How did you set about translating your dreams to reality? Did anyone ever tell you that you couldn’t or shouldn’t?
I actually can’t place it on anyone saying I shouldn’t, my family has been very supportive. There are people that have discouraged me as well and there are obvious hurdles I have had to cross. Crossing these barriers has been the testimonies and beauty of my pursuits. I have translated most of my dreams into reality simply by attempting them and not giving up on the field of reality. I have learnt that having a dream is entirely different to fulfilling it; to fulfil a dream you need to get up and walk the talk, fight with the prophecy and hold up your faith. It may be tough down the road than you expected but like I said in one of my quotes; “if stick to the wild galloping horse; it will take you home, if you hold on to the tossing ship; the storm will calm and you will reach the harbour”.
Every life has a bit of challenge; kindly share a challenge you have faced and how you surmounted it…
Writing of ‘WHAT TIME IS IT?’ was challenging in every way possible. I had to create time to write despite my job. I wrote through the nights, on Sundays after Church, avoided the TV, stayed indoors on holidays, sometimes forgot to eat, and most times burnt my food while cooking because I was writing or slept off. I experienced delays from getting feedbacks on the manuscripts and there were days were I felt like… “Why am I troubling myself, like who asked me to write? Will people even accept my ideologies, will the book be well received?” But each time I got to those lowest points, I thought deeply and remembered the students I spoke to the day the idea was birthed and the teacher that asked for a manual. I looked beyond my present tight spots and saw youths all over the world that are waiting for the insights the book will provide in their lives. The mandate I heard from God to write also became a source of revival at such moments, to restore my strength and push on against all odds. Today the book is doing well everywhere it goes, testimonies are coming in and my personal challenging and the loneliness I coped with while writing, is not known to the readers.
If you could change one thing about your life?
I believe my life is preordained and going as planned. I may not fully understand why certain events happened or change the experiences I pass through. Sometimes I hit on the point, sometimes I miss the point, but I believe it’s all turning out for my good. I believe the script of my life is written by the Creator Himself; the conflicts, the twists and the climaxes in the plot are all for His glory. There are also values I’m adding and skills I’m acquiring for a better performance on the stage of life. I know I have only one life to live, so I do my best on every opportunity I have while I still have my breath; there will not be another Olusola E. Adeniyi when I’m gone.
Nigeria will rise when…
Each of us makes up the nation Nigeria, what Nigeria is experiencing is a reflection of our issues. When we all choose to deal with our greed, our ignorance, our lack of integrity, our unfaithfulness, our failures, fears and lack faith that a raging the storm can cease; then the change will flow from us into our families, our communities and our nation. The potential for change in every nation is resident in her people. Nigeria will rise when her people choose to rise.
Inspire a young African in one sentence
You are born to fix a puzzle; your generation is at stake, rise up and fix it.